Friday, September 19, 2008


In Which We Crave Distraction...

These days, I never know what's going to distract me from work (or from blogging, come to that). If I'm not risking death by having a barn fall on me (about this more later, when I get around to my visit to New Hampshire), I'm throwing up from heat or flu, and then aspirating the damn stuff so I can lie in bed for a week. Sheesh.

So you can imagine my surprise, then, at having the most comparatively benign circumstance cross my path and slow me down this week. All thoughts of work, either in the office or at home, came to a standstill in the face of this distraction.

Which was the arrival of this.


Thomas has been ulcerating for this video game for months. It's all he's talked about. He sold off some of his other toys in order to make money to buy a special controller for the game, and also some Star Wars figures (which he adores almost as much as video games) that were released this summer, figures whose characters appear only in the game. He would peruse message boards for the latest news about it. He downloaded images from the game and from the box art. He went completely ape-shit fan-boy on me.

I have to admit, the excitement got to me, rubbed off on me, and I found myself counting the days until the game's release. So I was pretty happy to see a package in my office first thing Tuesday morning and note the return address--the press folks from LucasArts, the game's creator. I opened the package, saw the by-now-nauseatingly familiar box art, and knew that, for today at least, I would be cementing my position as World's Best Dad.

Naturally, when I got home, Thomas flipped out. He wasn't the only one. Her Lovely Self gave me a Look and a sigh, a heavily freighted one, a sigh with a footnote half a page long. A footnote that lectured me about bringing home more toys and games, especially violent games. But I was too busy watching Thomas fiddle with switches and cables as he fired up the Wii console and turned on the TV.

Within minutes, my son was jumping and lunging and spinning around, moving the Wii remote this way and that. If you were to look in our window at that moment and see this spectacle, you'd have dismissed my son as a student of some new and unusual martial art. Or perhaps just a Riverdancer on crack. But on screen, a guy with a lightsaber mirrored my son's actions perfectly, and to digitally deadly effect, swinging his weapon this way and that. Dozens of hapless CGI men were falling left and right, emitting comic-book-type screams ("Arrgh! Eyyyahhhhh!")

After clearing the first two levels in about a minute and a half, Thomas turned to me. "Want to try, Dad?" he asked. He held out the remote, which was resting inside the special accessory my son had purchased, a two-foot long device known as a Glo-Sword. It was basically a mini light saber, with a handle (into which you inserted your remote) and a sturdy clear plastic "blade" that lit up bright red when you turned it on. Like this:

glo sword

As I took it, I felt like a kid again.

Then Thomas turned the game back on and I realized that, while my spirit might be that of a 10-year-old boy, my reflexes and reaction time were strictly geriatric.

"Get him! He's right behind you. Go! Go!!" Thomas shouted as I fiddled helplessly with the controls. On-screen, I began running in circles as I tried to master both the remote and the nunchuk extension, to no avail. My son desperately tried to save me from myself, offering helpful advice with every step: "You're standing inside a flaming ball of fire, Dad." "You're going the wrong way. That's the way we came in!" "Don't touch that, it's an electrical--no, never mind. You're dead. Again." I careened into walls, then inadvertently hopped over a railing into an abrupt black nothing. At length, I crashed into the ground while all around me, red laser beams flew, most of them hitting me in the back and the ass. My character made painful grunts and groans each time he was hit. I half-expected him to turn and look out of the screen at me and yell, "What the fuck, dude? Put the kid back on!"

What's more, while the Glo Sword may have been the coolest-looking Wii accessory ever, in my hands it proved to be an unmitigated disaster, not to mention a danger to myself and my loved ones. Well, okay, to myself. At one point in the game, a giant Wookiee came running up to me with a couple of nasty looking swords and I brought my weapon up abruptly to defend myself--too abruptly, it turned out. I smashed myself in the nose and then, swinging wildly to parry the flashing swords on-screen, I managed to strip my glasses from my face. Suddenly the world was a disjointed blur of red light, the flickering of the TV, and triumphant animal howling, intermingled with my son's plaintive cries.

"You have to move the remote up, then down! And hold the B and Z button and push!" Thomas shouted, increasingly agitated, as, later, I staggered across some kind of docking bay. I tripped over debris. I ran full tilt into a barrel that blew up in my face, sending me into the wall again. I got up and ran some more, like a drunk fleeing from the cops. Up ahead, there was some kind of door. I ran for it, thinking it would open automatically, but it didn't and I crashed into it head-first. A second later, about a dozen guys rushed in from the bottom of the screen and began shooting me at point-blank range.

"Fight! Fight them, you stupid shit!" Thomas cried, unable to contain himself. I realized then that I had somehow put my lightsaber away and didn't have the first notion how to turn it back on. So I pushed all the buttons at once. On-screen, my character jumped spastically, like a cat on a hot plate. Finally, I drew my sword and promptly began attacking a window. Behind me, a couple of my opponents started glowing.

"That means you can use the Force on them!" Thomas yelled. "Do it! Do it!" On-screen, superimposed over the action, there suddenly appeared a little image of my remote, accompanied by little arrows. Apparently, even the game was taking pity on me and trying to tell me how to play it. The little icon began spinning as the arrows turned red and green and moved every which way, evidently a universal video-game gesture that means "shake the shit out of it!" So I did, but it was to no avail. A few moments later, a stormtrooper came along with a big cannon on a tripod and blew me to pieces, putting me out of my misery. Thomas' too. In the silence that followed, I heard my son take a big breath, trying to master himself.

Then he said in a kindly voice, "Why don't you watch me for a while?" I looked down. Both of my hands were shaking. My left thumb was sore and red and by the next day I would have a huge blister on it and a matching one on my index finger. My glasses were bent and my nose hurt. My right hand was cramped shut (it took some effort to pry the nunchuk out of it).

So, perspiring freely from my exertions, I sat down. And as I did, I realized that perhaps just watching my son resume the digital mayhem would be distraction enough for one day.

From Somewhere on the Masthead

Hah, hah, hah! Best post in a long time. Too funny.

My son got me Tony Hawk pro skater for my gamecube (I know, lame). I think Tony Hawk was scarred in real life from the beating I gave him.

Fortunately, the used video game store allows trade ins.
Best laugh I've had all day (and I've had quite a few today.)

I know the feeling. I'm horribly inept at video games. Do you remember that arcade game where you boxed against increasingly bigger and tougher opposition? I'd just keep pressing buttons, hoping against hope to hit my opponent in the face. Somehow,I'd invariably end up turned around, punching at the ropes, and then get KO'ed.
I have not laughed so hard all week, you beat out even the 7 month old puppies we have here! LOL

Sorry not picking on you but lord that was funny.

I won't let hubby see this entry, he's a Stars wars fan from waaay back. he'd be dying for that set up!
It sounds like a fun game, but I probably would have thrown my back out.
OH MY GAWD! I'm hyperventilating from laughing so hard.
You'd find a way to hurt yourself in a pool full of jello.
Took me three tries to read this out loud to my son, as I wiped tears from my eyes.
I haven't laughed like that in a loooong time.

Thank you.
Awww :D Great story.

I'm not sure if I could play a game like that, but I know I'd be afraid of knocking things over with that lightsaber!
After I bought and began playing the computer game Pirates I developed the belief that I was perfectly able to use a rapier. My skills had just been completely untested.

A few weeks into the game, while renovating my living room, I decided to prove this to myself. With an old curtain rod, and my stunning agility and grace, I fought back waves of imaginary foes.

Or....I broke a bunch of ceramic art, cracked a giant mirror behind me on the wall (rendering it useless), and gave myself a charlie horse.

With one fell swoop.

I remember putting the curtain rod down slowly, looking around to make sure no one saw me, and running away as fast as my charlie horse would let me.

When my (now) husband came home.....I blamed the cats.
That was great! Lego Boy is also a major Star Wars fan and got this game on Tuesday as well. I was upstairs when he turned it on and began playing and the cries of delight and amazement I heard from downstairs were enough to make me go see what was going on. I don't have the guts to try the game, too much coordination required, so my hats off to you for giving it a shot. We also got him the big gaming guide, which has proved helpful.
Hilarious. I've scoffed at most of the Wii accessories, but the glow sword would tempt me. alas, I think I'd be likely to hit stuff or people with it accidentally.

I like the Lego games (Star Wars, Indy) which are probably more suited to my novice skills than Force Unleashed. I'm still getting used to the visual language of video games that tips you off how to solve puzzles. And it's nice that dying isn't a game ender in those.

Keep at it, MM, I'm sure you'll get the hang of it eventually. Maybe? ;)
I am perspiring...from LAUGHING so friggin' hard. wish I'd seen it in person, dude. and I am totally with you: I tried some physical antics in the yard a few weeks ago, somersaults and such, moves that I used to be able to do in my sleep, and I made such a complete !?# of myself that I had to hide inside the house afterward. the old gray mare... or stallion, in your case... we just ain't what we used to be.

alas, I can still howl with hilarity, which I do almost every time I check in on masthead. thanks so much!
Well, Twinks has a Wii, but luckily she doesn't have this disaster yet!

Take it from one who speaks with experience - if you want to keep any shred of Thomas' respect for you, do NOT play Guitar Hero in front of him.


Hey, I just read your post that tells that story about J. D. Salinger. Don't worry, I won't try to get informations from you. All I have to say is that it really reached me in a kinda bittersweet way. If you could send me an e-mail or something (OK, maybe I want to get informations from you), would you please write to I bet you won't. I don't blame you. Anyway, congratulations for your excellent writing, consider yourself in my blogroll. And by the way, sorry for any grammar mistakes or anything, my English isn't at all perfect.
You slay me.
Had the exact same experience when I let my 12 yr old nephew bring his gamecube for the weekend...and HALO III.

He was so excited to have me play with him, but after about 5 minutes of watching me get killed about 30 times and trying to help me on the "mission", he took pity on me and figured it'd be best if I just watched.

And that was with a standard controller. I can't imagine the harm I would have done myself and my home, had it been on the Wii.
"Fight! Fight them, you stupid shit!" - Brilliant.
You have the best stories! And at 42, I can completely sympathize...although I did laugh. With you, of course.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?